Butterfly Migration on Cape Cod
Besides the bird, fish, whale, turtle, and seal migration, butterflies also migrate. Monarch Butterflies are the farthest travelers of the insect world. They cover an area from Mexico to Canada, 2000 miles or more, out-distancing even most birds. If you’ve ever seen a cloud of Monarchs, you wouldn’t forget the beautiful sight. I was lucky enough to see them once in Santa Cruz, California, with my family.
It remains an unsolved mystery how these insects find their migration path. Their short life spans usually make it a one-way trip. Their offspring take the return flight. Monarchs fly about ten to twenty-five miles an hour, travel eighty miles a day. They only weigh one quarter to three quarters of a gram. Flying about twenty feet off the ground, they flap their wings about 300 to 720 times a minute. Butterflies can see and smell and taste the nectar they eat.
Breeding takes place in the Oyamel fir forests of Mexico, where the female can lay from 250 to 720 eggs in a day, one at a time.
A little detail: the Monarchs don’t arrive on the Cape until July. I’m telling you ahead, because after the hard winter on Cape Cod, everyone needs to think summer!